New Documentary Shows Behind The Scenes Of The King’s Coronation

By Ellie Smith

6 months ago

Charles III: The Coronation Year is out on Boxing Day

King Charles III’s coronation was watched by 20 million Brits when it aired back in May – but what was it like backstage? A new BBC documentary, Charles III: The Coronation Year, captured the royal family as they prepared for the big day, and we have our first look.

Charles III: The Coronation Year: First Look At New BBC Documentary

King Charles III at Coronation rehearsaln Westminster Abbey.

BBC/Oxford Film and Television

What’s Charles III: The Coronation Year About?

The BBC’s 90-minute landmark documentary Charles III: The Coronation Year will offer a behind the scenes look at King Charles’ first year as a monarch. This is the first time filming crews have been given access to the royals in the run up to such a big event, and the documentary will feature private moments that the public did not get to see. Written and co-produced for Oxford Films by royal expert Robert Hardman, it will also feature candid interviews with family members including Princess Anne – with narration from none other than Helena Bonham Carter.

Initial clips from the documentary show a first glimpse at some of these unguarded moments. One shows the King on the morning of Coronation Day at Buckingham Palace, holding up his robes like wings and saying: ‘I can fly’. Another shows Queen Camilla walking along the corridor in her ivory gown, accompanied by her pages – who she affectionately refers to as ‘lads’. 

‘Don’t tread on my dress or that’s going to a be a problem,’ she says, adding to the cameraman: ‘here we are, with all the lads.’ 

Fiona, Marchioness of Landsdowne, who was a ‘Queen’s Companion’ at the coronation, describes the first moment she saw Camilla that day – comparing it to a wedding. ‘It wasn’t until we were all ready that we actually all came together to see each other for the first time. It was a very special moment. That was when it was like a wedding. The bridesmaids going to see the bride.’

Queen Camilla on Coronation day at Buckingham Palace

BBC/Oxford Film and Television

We also hear from the Queen’s sister, Annabel Elliot, who appears tearful as she watches her sister on the way to Westminster Abbey. ‘When I thought back to being two years old and watching the Queen’s Coronation on a tiny black and white television and there goes this golden coach with my sister in it,’ she says. ‘I can’t explain the feeling because it’s so surreal. This cannot be happening. It was quite a moment.’

The documentary shows footage, too, from the coronation rehearsals – including the funny moments when things didn’t quite go to plan. For instance, we see the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, forgetting his words when giving a blessing, leaving everyone laughing away. The Archbishop of York interjects, joking: ‘you must have said this before?’. Archbishop Welby says to the camera: ‘I have a memory that is probably about as good as our spaniel’s – in other words, zero.’

Release Date

Charles III: The Coronation Year will be screened on 26 December at 6.50pm on BBC One and iPlayer.